Conference Realignment: Will Expansion Bring a Halt to Iowa-Iowa State Rivalry?

B.Senior Analyst IJune 13, 2010

LAWRENCE, KS - OCTOBER 10:  Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers coach Wally Burnham and Head Coach Paul Rhoads of the Iowa State Cyclones argue a call during the game against the Kansas Jayhawks on October 10, 2009 at Memorial Stadium in Lawrence, Kansas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The never-ending saga of the college football conference Armageddon seems to have potential implications at every turn.

Some schools might have more implications than others.

For the Iowa Hawkeyes, one possible side-effect of the chaos is a new border rival with Nebraska's addition to the Big Ten. Iowa and Nebraska had a small rivalry going back in the 1930s and 1940s that briefly heated up again in the '80s, and could develop into something now that the Huskers are on their way to the conference.

Another side-effect for Iowa could be the demise of the annual Cy-Hawk rivalry.

The Hawkeyes and Cyclones have played 57 times since their first game in 1894, with Iowa leading the series overall 38-19. The series had a break in the action between 1935 to 1977, but has been thriving ever since.

As noted by the Cedar Rapids Gazette 's Marc Morehouse, University of Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta recently mentioned that the football contract between the Iowa and Iowa State has a contingency in the event of conference schedule changes.

Schedule changes for both schools now seem as likely as death and taxes at this point.

The Big Ten will soon have 12 teams competing in the conference, and schools could have to drop a non-conference game to accommodate their schedules.

Barta currently anticipates that things will remain unchanged with the in-state rivalry, as it's not only good for the state of Iowa, but for college athletics on a whole. An evaporation of the Big 12 could change his anticipation, though. 

With the Huskers and Colorado Buffaloes both departing for greener pastures, and news from that Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, and Oklahoma are likely heading west to the Pac-10, the Big 12 evaporation seems as probable as Lindsay Lohan taking a trip to rehab in the near future. 

If the Big 12 breaks up and Iowa State is forced to find a new conference, the rivalry could be on hold indefinitely, especially if ISU doesn't get picked up by a BCS conference.

Playing a Cyclone team that's not participating in a BCS conference could affect Iowa’s strength of schedule, a deciding factor in major bowl games. Iowa would then have more to lose from the rivalry games against Iowa State than they would to gain.

Many Hawkeye fans favor the idea of ditching the Cyclone rivalry for a Husker one. Hawkeye Nation 's Jon Miller thinks that "over time, the Iowa-Nebraska game would mean more annually to Iowa fans than the Iowa-Iowa State game."

As Iowa's athletic director reminds, this kind of analysis might be putting the cart before the horse.

Still, it helps to prove that we've only just begun to scratch the surface of effects of the impending seismic conference shifts.


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